Special Occasions

I am not too fond of most special occasions. I do not enjoy dressing up, I struggle with noises and crowds, and I find it hard to make small talk. Yet, I find myself going to almost every wedding reception, party, or other event to which I am invited. I have even traveled as much as 8 hours in one day just to attend an event for a few minutes.

It may seem strange to most people that I would dedicate so much time to one event, but it’s important to me that my friends know I value what is important to them. A wedding reception is not my version of a good time, but I know that I would want to see my friends at my wedding reception, so I go to every reception I can reasonably attend.

For many years, I have vehemently expressed my distaste for birthdays. I do not have many fond memories of birthdays, and I always struggle to find joy in the days leading up to my birthday. Despite all of this, I have always felt that birthdays are extremely special and even sacred events. A day set aside to celebrate the existence of someone has to have special meaning and value.

So, as hard as it is, I continue to go to special events, travel to see friends on special occasions, and try to get through the things that are hard for me because if it’s important to my friends, it’s important to me.

Talking about special occasions, today is my 7 year anniversary of starting this blog!

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Celebrating Christ’s Birth

It is no secret that I am not fond of birthdays. There are years that I would like to avoid my birthday altogether. However, as we talked today in church about Christ’s birthday. I thought about what Christmas represents.

Christmas is a day to remember Christ. So, how would he want us to remember Him? By giving of ourselves- giving to others, helping others, loving others. That is how Christ spent His life. In truth, the birth of Jesus was a gift from both Christ and the Father. Jesus gave us the gift of His life- of becoming mortal so that He could save us, serve us, and show us how to live like Him. And the Father gave us the gift of His Son.

I think that the Spirit of Christmas is the perfect way to celebrate Christ’s birthday because we strive to do exactly what He did in His mortal life- give, love, serve. I hope my birthday can help people remember those things, too. But I am grateful for the perfect example to celebrate with “peace on earth, goodwill to men.”

Birthdays

I was invited to a birthday party yesterday. As far as I remember, this is the first time I have been specifically invited to a birthday party. I have been to parties for my family and sister’s friends, but not for one of my friends, not because someone specifically wanted me there. The only party I remember being invited to was in middle school and that was more of a going away party than anything else. Long story short, it didn’t go well. And needless to say, I haven’t been to one since.

Although this probably would have been an okay party and I probably could have appeared to not be completely socially awkward, I was nervous about it. So, when I had a perfect excuse to not stay at the party, I was happy to oblige. I went, said happy birthday, dropped off a gift, and left. Maybe I should have stayed for a bit and mingled. Maybe I should have taken advantage of the fact that I actually was invited and wanted there.

But I don’t like birthdays. My earliest memory of a birthday is when I was staying at a mice-infested house, my body covered in mosquito bites, helping to clean trash up to my waist, and throwing garbage into the dumpster when I realized it was my birthday and I was now 7 years old. Most of my other birthdays were lonely times, when little to no friends came.

So, this time, I just bowed out gracefully. Maybe next time I’ll face my fears. Maybe next time I’ll stay and mingle and possibly slightly overcome my fear of birthdays. Maybe if there is a next time, I’ll find a reason to enjoy birthdays.

Getting Older

Today I turned 25. And today, I feel like I am 25. It’s sort of strange getting older, or at least counting the years of getting older. Are we as old as our birth certificates say we are? Or are we the age we feel inside?

In the last year, I started a job in a company where I could possibly stay for the rest of my life; I bought a car; I got my own insurance; I got my first speeding ticket. And all in all, I just changed. I feel different. I feel older and responsible and ready to be an adult and settle down and find my way in the world.

I feel like I go through stages in my life. I was basically a kid all through high school. I went through my teenager stage in college. I went through young adult singleness for the last four years, and now I’m ready for the next stage.

So today I am 25 and officially an adult inside. I don’t know if I’ll be 26 next year or if I’ll just stay 25 for a few years, but today my birth certificate and my soul are in sync.

Be a Friend

I really hate telling sad stories about my life because I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. I mean, yes I have autism and yes I have a hard time making friends and yes I have struggled with depression and suicide for most of my life, but… I’m not dying. I’m not homeless. I have a family. I live in a country that allows me to follow religious convictions and express my opinions.

So autism isn’t really that bad in comparison. And I hate when people feel hopeless about autism because there is no reason to be hopeless. Autism is something that affects everything in your life, but there’s lots of things like that. We all have our problems that put a tinted lens on our life. Autism just happens to be the problem I’ve been blessed with.

But in saying all of that, I do want to tell a sad story for the sake of motivating others to do better. No, autism isn’t all bad. But yes, it would be a lot easier and a lot less disheartening if people did more to help.

A few stories have gone around over the last couple years about kids who didn’t have friends; their parent posted their need online and people responded to the call. These stories amaze me and sadden me because I was that kid. Not the one that got a response, but the one without friends on my birthday or friends to just hang out with or talk to.

I have had lots of people tell me that they would never have guessed I have autism. On a bad day, the only thing I can think is “Well, that doesn’t make it any easier to make friends.”

I have been teased in school, at church, in extracurricular activities. I have failed to make approachable friends in almost any situation you can think of. I am an extrovert so I’m usually not completely alone, but I am almost always lonely. And I have had birthdays where I have invited people and no one showed up and birthdays where I had no one to invite so I tried to pretend that I really didn’t want to have a party anyway.

Again, I’m not saying this so that you will feel sorry for me. I am saying this to make you think about someone else who might need you as much as I have needed people. I’m saying this so that you will look at your own life and the people around you and really see them.

Is there someone that you could give your friendship to more? Is there someone who maybe seems fine on the outside but is really hurting inside? Are you doing all you can to include people around you? And most of all, are you simply being a friend?

You never know if a friend of yours is struggling with autism or depression or grief or some other difficulty. Just be a friend to the people you can be a friend to and it will make the world a much better place.